“The response to the diverter idea demonstrated a clear lack of community support for this type of traffic pattern change.”
— PBOT statement
After politely asking King neighborhood residents if they would voluntarily reduce driving access on Northeast 9th to make the street a more “low-stress, family-friendly” neighborhood greenway, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has announced that they won’t install a traffic diverter.
The crossing at Killingsworth is a key part of making the route on 9th safer and has already undergone an upgrade as part of Safe Routes to School project. PBOT felt an additional median in the middle of the intersection was needed in order to reduce the amount of drivers on 9th to volumes within acceptable limits. But loud voices from nearby residents — some of whom have suffered from decades of systemic racism at the hands of official city decisions and policies — drowned out PBOT’s proposal at a meeting last month.
“PBOT will not be installing a traffic diverter at the crossing of NE 9th and Killingsworth as a part of this project,” read a PBOT project email. “This area faces unique challenges in connectivity and circulation, as well as a history of damaging effects of transportation infrastructure projects. The response to the diverter idea demonstrated a clear lack of community support for this type of traffic pattern change.”
At the public meeting in October, the people who spoke up were almost all in opposition to the diverter. However, according to a voting exercise at the meeting, there was a significant (yet silent) number of people who supported it. PBOT also accepted feedback on the idea via an online survey (we haven’t seen the results of that).
PBOT says that although the diverter is off the table now, they plan to monitor the intersection to see how other changes on 9th impact driving behaviors. “Any future changes to traffic patterns will be made in partnership with the community and neighborhood association,” PBOT said.
In their Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Reported adopted by city council in 2015, PBOT established a target automobile volume of 1,000 average daily traffic (ADT), with 1,500 acceptable and 2,000 ADT maximum. According to PBOT’s ADT map, it appears 9th at Killingsworth is well over the target threshold.
Without this diverter, we’ll have to hope PBOT’s signage and speed bumps will be enough to reduce driving trips and slow people down to safe levels.
Below is the final design for the 9th Avenue Neighborhood Greenway:
For more on this diverter and how some people in the neighborhood feel about it, see our recap from the October meeting.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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